Google Shuts Down More Piracy Sites in Australia

Google Shuts Down More Piracy Sites in Australia
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Google is working to remove hundreds of piracy sites in Australia that just keep bouncing back.

A Sydney Morning Herald report has said the tech giant is moving to de-index hundreds more piracy sites as they reappeared under new domains.

While Google had already been working to voluntarily take down the offending sites without  a court injunction, the piracy sites had simply switched domains to continue offering copyrighted content.

Previously the process was lengthy and required the rights holders, say a film production company, to take Google to court. The new agreement means the search engine just needs to be re-notified about the mirror or proxy site and it will then work to de-index it.

When a site is de-indexed by Google, it no longer appears in search results. Outside of legal obligations, Google de-indexes sites when they "detract from users' ability to locate relevant information" or if it doesn't meet its quality guidelines.

"Google may temporarily or permanently remove sites from its index and search results if it believes it is obligated to do so by law, if the sites do not meet Google's quality guidelines, or for other reasons, such as if the sites detract from users' ability to locate relevant information," a post explained.

Gizmodo Australia contacted Google regarding the targeted sites and to understand how many have been de-indexed.

How piracy sites have avoided Australia's ban so far

While legislation introduced back in 2018 effectively blacklisted a number of piracy sises, it hasn't had a 100 per cent success rate.

Essentially, a rights holder of a film or song would have to launch a court injunction — like a cease and desist order — against the site in order to get it blocked or taken down. That gets a little more complicated when most of these sites are based overseas.

In those cases, it's easier to ask Google to de-index them so no one can find them. A simple workaround, however, is to simply create a mirror site with the same content and a different domain.

It's a trick popular sites, like Pirate Bay and the now-defunct Kick Ass Torrents, have successfully employed for years.

Prior to the legislation and an explosion of streaming sites launching locally, Australians were once heralded as global leaders in piracy.

Locally, Game of Thrones was exclsuive to Foxtel and since many Australians could not afford, or simply didn't want, to sign up for the service, piracy rates soared.

In 2014, TorrentFreak found 11.6 per cent of the nearly 20,000 IP addresses it collected when the show's fourth season premiered were located in Australia.

Piracy rates have dropped considerably in the years since then as streaming content becomes more convenient and affordable. Still, the persistence of piracy sites shows some demand remains long after its peak.